This interview is reprinted without permission from

By Barbara Kligman

I was nervous and excited when I interviewed Beck. Our meeting was
in the dressing room at Roseland in New York City, the day after he was
on Saturday Night Live. The meeting almost didn't take place, as he was
tired, but I was not leaving the venue without at least asking him about
his Bar Mitzvah. As I waited in the hall, I thought about whipping out
my camera and photographing Beck's traveling trunk, where a pair of
rhinestone cowboy boots lay perched atop (that's a photo right there),
and many western style shirts were inside (along with orange shoes). I
didn't want to overstep my privilege though, 'cause it took me too long
to get this close! I do have to say that Beck was really nice, very
genuine and most definitely mensch-like. (Which is pretty much the
biggest compliment I give to anyone).

Q:  Can you tell me the Jew make-up of you?

Beck:  It's all on my mother's side. My mother's mother was all-Jew.
Eastern European Jews. It runs through the female side of the family.

Q:  Then it counts. You look Scandinavian to me.

Beck:  Yeah, I'm a Scandinavian Jew.

Q:  I'll take that. Please tell me you were Bar Mitzvahed.

Beck:  No. I wanted to be but we were so poor when I was a kid. I
remember for years my mother griping about that. I went to Hebrew school
for a while though. I got some of the Jew-knowledge, I just didn't get
the ceremony. I remember my friends getting Bar Mitzvahed though.

Q:  So I can't ask the fashion question then.

Beck:  Well, if I was Bar Mitzvahed I would've worn a blue blazer, grey
slacks and Florsheims and a phat tie. It's the uniform..

Q:  When I read about you and you being Jewish, it always seems that
person writing the article is shocked that you're a Jew. What's up with

Beck:  They can't believe it. I don't know because the tribe is large.
I think there's more people that have Jew in them than don't.

Q:  Do you have a favorite Jewish holiday?

Beck:  Passover, because it's the first time I ever got drunk. I have
fond memories. We had pretty rowdy Passovers because my mom would invite
all her non-Jewish friends over and they brought a party atmosphere with
them. There's serious parts at Passover but there's celebratory parts
too -- hiding the matzoh. I used one of the prayers from Passover in a
song I did on a Christmas jam I did. It was a Hanukkah interpretation of
The Little Drummer Boy.

Q:  Back to drinking. Do you know of any Jews who drink? Hard liquor?

Beck:  I drink and so do all of my Jewish friends. Yes. We do it all.
Most of the people I know who are Jews have evolved to embracing this
now. I'm talking West Coast Jews here. Maybe it's different on the East

Q:  So there are Jews on the West Coast?

Beck:  There's so many but the West Coast isn't about tradition at all.

Q:  Can you get a good knish there?

Beck:  Yeah, there's an area called Fairfax district where it's a
pretty heavy Jew scene. Lots of Jew food there. East L.A. used to be a
massive Jewish community -- they've got Brooklyn Avenue there. Now it's
Latino, but there's a lot of Jewish heritage there.

Q:  What Jew would you like to duet with?

Beck:  That's a good one -- I would like to sing something very
traditional with Isaac Bashevis Singer. Something very poignant. Maybe a

Q:  Last question. (pointing to the mutton chops) You're so close to
payess. Would you give me props and wear payess to the Grammys?

Beck:  I just shaved yesterday because I had a full-on Jew-beard going.
The sideburns are out of control. I could easily show up to the Grammys
like that -- everywhere I go I try to represent. I've played a lot of
these Xmas radio shows and there was nobody there. I mean the
Wallflowers played there and he wasn't giving it up for Hanukkah. We
came there and we represented. We've got to take back the holiday --

Q:  Beautiful.

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